AAA Calls For Federal Roads Corporation
The Australian Automobile Association has called on both the Federal Government and the Opposition to commit to establishing a Federal Roads Corporation to plan, fund and manage the National Highway network. AAA had also recommended the establishment of a National Roads Corporation in its Budget submission to the Government.
The call follows the release of an AEC Group report on Australia's roads by the Australian Local Government Association. The report reveals that the proportion of Federal Government fuel excise returned to roads in Australia is significantly less than in comparable nations such as New Zealand, France, Britain, Japan and the United States.
AAA Executive Director, Lauchlan McIntosh, said the new report found that eight out of ten people surveyed ranked roads and transport in the top five issues of importance leading up to the election. It also found that four out of five people wanted the Government to spend more of the fuel excise it collected on roads, which is in line with public opinion research conducted for AAA by ANOP.
"This latest report follows the release of an ANAO report on the management of the National Highway System which found that the system is being managed poorly. In specific terms the report found that the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services kept no record of pavement age to assist in planning and programming expenditure. And worse, it found there had been no correlation between the performance indicators, the agreed road conditions to be achieved and annual funding provided by the Commonwealth.
"Clearly our road infrastructure has been under-funded and poorly managed by the Commonwealth for many years and it time these issues were addressed to ensure that the limited funding available is spent in the most effective way. Roads are the major link in our national, regional, local and rural networks, providing vital links from homes, businesses and recreation for both personal and public transport.
"In this election year we are seeking a commitment from both the Government and the Opposition to establish a Federal Roads Corporation (FRC) which would operate under a Statement of Intent with the Commonwealth. This could take the form of a ten-year strategic road plan with a five-year rolling works program with annual public reporting against specified objectives.
"We would like to see the proposed FRC fund nationally important projects, which met explicit economic and other criteria, through a petroleum-based Federal road user charge, paid directly to the Corporation, which would replace a corresponding amount of the current Federal petroleum products excise.
"Establishing a Federal Roads Corporation would provide improved strategic planning, long-term commitment and better outcomes, and it would remove road funding from the ad hoc, short-term political process," Mr. McIntosh said.